Windows 8: Some VARs Aren't Selling It, They're Replacing It

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Several midmarket CIOs interviewed by CRN said they can't justify Windows 8 rollouts for their businesses. One CIO loves Windows 8 but said that doesn't mean her company is ready to switch to the new operating system.

"Personally, I like the new OS and plan to purchase a Surface Pro [tablet] in the next few months," Debbie Ward, director of IT at Heritage Texas Properties, a Houston-based real estate firm, told CRN. "Further, I have a Windows 8 phone [a Nokia Lumia 920], that I absolutely love. It truly is the best cellphone I have ever owned."

But all that love won't translate into a rollout of Windows 8 anytime soon for Heritage Texas, she said, citing the costs, training requirements, need to finish other projects and concerns about applications running on Windows 8.

"The training need is huge. Such a completely different OS will just add frustration to our end users, and slow productivity initially," Ward said. "Many have low tolerance for any form of change. Windows 7 is solid and reliable. Getting our users accustomed to the new Microsoft Office suite is enough change for them right now."

Heritage Texas primarily runs Windows 7 but still has some public machines in each branch of the real estate firm running Windows XP and some running Windows Vista. Those will be replaced this year, likely with Windows 7, she said.

Lia Sophia, a Wood Dale, Ill.-based jewelry manufacturer, still runs the majority of its business computers on Windows XP with only a smattering of PCs on Windows 7. Still, the company isn't likely to think about upgrading to Windows 8 for two to four years, said Bev Wesolowski, CIO and vice president of IT operations at Lia Sophia.

"We'd also need some compelling reason to move, i.e., needed functionality [or] customer pressure," Wesolowski said. "Windows 8 will need to mature and prove its backward compatibility with other 32-bit apps before being brought to the table."

The cost of integrating Windows 8 and ensuring that existing applications work seamlessly on the OS would be too much at this point, Wesolowski added.

"Costs are always a consideration. We'd also be concerned about our other applications and the impact," she said. "Certainly we'd only introduce this if it could operate with existing back-office and desktop applications."

NEXT: Distributors Weigh In

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